“New Mutants” #23 delivers another solid installment of Mike Carey’s “Age of X” storyline.
Mike Carey continues to answer some mysterious questions, which feels just right from a timing and emotion perspective, but holds back just enough to keep readers coming back hungrily for more. In this issue, Magneto shows his true colors in revealing that he didn’t actually kill Gambit and Legacy in the previous issue (“X-Men Legacy” #246). We discover his role in Pryde’s original escape and, while evading the mysterious “X,” he frees Xavier. Meanwhile the New Mutants hunt him down, but with reservation. And the Force Warriors, led by Legion and motivated by “his mother,” Moira, step in and take control, just as Rogue discovers a big piece of the puzzle.
Mike Carey is doing great things with his epic “Age of X” storyline that hits enjoyable familiar notes from alternative reality stories like “The Age of Apocalpyse” while breaking exciting new ground, as well. Carey’s story thus far is well-paced and well written, juggling a massive cast, but wisely focusing on a few core characters. Readers are getting the best of both worlds, with both a look at the larger picture and all the fun that comes with that. But it's also a story that doesn’t bite off more than it can chew. Carey is also doing a marvelous job of doling out questions to some mysteries, while raising new ones. There’s no doubt in a reader's mind that this story will not only have fascinating twists and turns as we hurtle toward the end, but that it will have been a satisfying read when all is said and done.
Steve Kurth’s art is good, but not great. It suffers a bit in comparison to Clay Mann, who's doing the work on the “X-Men Legacy” books in this arc, but it’s functional and sometimes beautiful. The storytelling is always clear and well-paced, but character faces are frequently inconsistent from panel to panel. Additionally, a lot of the expressions seem off or clumsy and there’s something a bit emotionless in some of the work. A kiss between Legacy and Gambit, which should have some ka-pow, looks pretty but feels dead. Similarly, a big scene with Magneto, Pryde, and Xavier should have a lot of emotional impact but falls flat.
Overall, Carey is doing amazing things with “Age of X.” It will be a shame if when it’s over we have to go back to business as usual. In Carey’s hands, that's still interesting, but not as interesting as this has been.